ArticlePDF Available

Human Health and Climate Change: Leverage Points for Adaptation in Urban Environments

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

The design of adaptation strategies that promote urban health and well-being in the face of climate change requires an understanding of the feedback interactions that take place between the dynamical state of a city, the health of its people, and the state of the planet. Complexity, contingency and uncertainty combine to impede the growth of such systemic understandings. In this paper we suggest that the collaborative development of conceptual models can help a group to identify potential leverage points for effective adaptation. We describe a three-step procedure that leads from the development of a high-level system template, through the selection of a problem space that contains one or more of the group's adaptive challenges, to a specific conceptual model of a sub-system of importance to the group. This procedure is illustrated by a case study of urban dwellers' maladaptive dependence on private motor vehicles. We conclude that a system dynamics approach, revolving around the collaborative construction of a set of conceptual models, can help communities to improve their adaptive capacity, and so better meet the challenge of maintaining, and even improving, urban health in the face of climate change.
Content may be subject to copyright.
A preview of the PDF is not available
... urban and rural), the application of co-benefits approach to addressing climate change and development 206 S. M. Karim and P. Ray issues is dependent upon these variables (Puppim de Oliveira et al. 2013). These challenges necessitate a careful and systematic approach to analysing the local context (Bai et al. 2012;Proust et al. 2012). ...
Chapter
Full-text available
Climate change is posing as major challenge for sustainable development. Achieving sustainable development requires action across multiple dimensions beyond climate change mitigation goals. Recognising non-climate-related benefits of climate action and purposefully considering them in the policy process can address the two issues together and simultaneously deliver climate change mitigation and sustainable development goals. This article explores the possible linkages and synergies between climate action and SDGs and how best to establish those linkages in the policy process to attain synergies by activating co-benefits. Presenting the main findings of a broader study focusing on use of ‘co-benefits approach’ by local government in Australia in their efforts to link climate action with local development policy goals it suggests measures that could assist policymakers to purposefully consider, plan, generate and activate co-benefits to link climate action with local development goals. The article concludes by discussing policy implications of the findings, the transferability of the research to settings outside Australia and possible direction for future research.
... urban and rural), the application of co-benefits approach to addressing climate change and development 206 S. M. Karim and P. Ray issues is dependent upon these variables (Puppim de Oliveira et al. 2013). These challenges necessitate a careful and systematic approach to analysing the local context (Bai et al. 2012;Proust et al. 2012). ...
Chapter
In the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) shaped by Artificial Intelligence (AI) blockchain, Internet of Things, multiverse, and quantum computing, the emphasis on creativity and innovation, entrepreneurship, and technology development also affect the ways the so-called non-profit sectors design and implement development and humanitarian programmes in developing countries like Nepal. Following the 2015 Nepal Earthquake Response, World Vision International Nepal (WVI Nepal) has ideated, prototyped, and scaled up community-focused innovative solutions like SIKKA, KITAB Bazar, and Participatory Disaster Risk Assessment (PDRA) tools integrated into its development and humanitarian initiatives. SIKKA uses blockchain technology to ensure cash and voucher distributions are transparent and trackable, and the system has been used to assist 92,788 people during the COVID-19 response. Similarly, KITAB Bazar, an online marketplace platform, has served 53,412 children in 831 community schools by providing 133,008 supplementary reading books in local languages through the platform. Likewise, the PDRA tool capacitates communities to identify disaster-prone areas and engage stakeholders for response through mobile applications.
... Sarriot et al. [77] use a participatory method to stimulate creative thinking from stakeholders for the improvement of a health system in Northern Bangladesh. Rwashana et al. [78] use causal loop diagrams to understand neonatal mortality in Uganda; the same approach is applied by Agyepong et al. [79] to assess some aspects of Ghana's national health insurance scheme and by Varghese et al. [80] to understand the immunisation services in Kerala, India; prior to this, Proust et al. [81] had used it to start to find the leverage points for human health adaptation to climate change in urban environments. Battle-Fisher [82] uses system dynamics to model health policies in some selected case studies in the USA; Bishai et al. [83] employ the same simulation tool to understand why cure crowds out prevention in a society. ...
Article
Full-text available
An increasing interest has been present in scientific literature and policy making for the links between urban environments and health, as also learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic. Collaboration between urban planning and public health is therefore critical for enhancing the capabilities of a city to promote the well-being of its people. However, what leverage potential for urban health can be found in existing plans, policies, and strategies that address urban health? Starting from the relationship between urban systems and health issues, the purpose of this contribution is to broaden the systemic knowledge of urban systems and health so as to try to figure out the impact potential of local urban governance on public health. Considering the systemic nature of health issues, as defined by the World Health Organisation, this is done through a systems thinking epistemological approach. Urban health proposals are studied and assessed in four European cities (Copenhagen, London, Berlin, and Vienna). Current criticalities are found, starting from the guiding goal of such proposals, yet a systemic approach is suggested aimed at supporting and evaluating lasting and healthy urban planning and management strategies.
... Relying on three case studies that explore interventions in the field of community sharing, we provide evidence of the interaction between leverage points and conditions influencing leverage points and the possible transformation within each system. Abson et al. (2017) assert that leverage-point analysis offers three key pathways to achieving deep transformation: (1) restructuring institutions (Proust et al. 2012), (2) reconnecting people and nature, and (3) rethinking how knowledge is created and used (e.g., Horrigan 2019). The first pathway is the most relevant for the current project because our cases involve new institutional logics that, for example, switch from market to redistributional logic (e.g., shifting from owning a private car to participating in a car-sharing system offered through the employer). ...
Article
Full-text available
Based on three case studies of community sharing in different sectors of society, we address how and under what conditions community sharing can contribute to sustainability transformation. Considering modes of exchange an leverage points, we analyze how community sharing can add to transformation when sharing systems are designed to intervene at both shallow and deep leverage points. Our case studies indicate that sustainability transformations are dynamic processes in which even shallow levels of leverage can affect change. We show that community sharing can be upscaled through restructuring institutions via redistributive exchange systems, while initiatives supported by strong and lasting institutions are in the best position to contribute to change. Furthermore, our results suggest that sharing practices may strengthen ties and trust in an enterprise or local community. Finally, community-sharing systems that build on existing values in line with sustainability transformation may be in the best position to contribute to deeper levers of change.
... This application of leverage points as a way to critique interventions fits to Meadows' original intention in articulating the framework. It is important work, supported by calls for deeper interventions in systems to achieve biodiversity and climate change outcomes, and to highlight the kinds of actions that these interventions, or levers, would entail (Díaz et al. 2019;Proust et al. 2012). But, there is additional power in the framework as a boundary object (Star and Griesemer 1989) for bringing different disciplines and stakeholders together (Fischer and Riechers 2019;Abson et al. 2017). ...
Article
Full-text available
The concept of leverage points offers great potential to consider how we can intervene in systems to create transformations for sustainability. In this special issue, we draw together a diverse collection of research that engages with this central idea. The papers cover three broad topics: (1) the use of a ‘leverage points lens’ for systems framings and understandings; (2) how individual interventions can be understood and critiqued from a leverage points perspective; and (3) the implications of a leverage points approach for research practice and action. Across these topics, we present the papers, and embed them within current critical debate in sustainability science. In doing so, we produce nine guiding questions to shape the research and practice of leverage points for sustainability transformation. These nine questions introduce conceptual clarity to untangle some of the deeper questions around which system we are engaging with, whose system counts, and whose sustainability we are seeking to create. They further shape how we deliver a leverage points research practice. We intend, therefore, that our guiding questions open up exploration across systems and worldviews, and help us to dance with systems.
... Ecological education can mediate the development of a more sustainable worldview, i.e., a worldview and mindset that considers environmental, social, and economic factors all at the same time. This is a "leverage point," a strategic intervention that can "produce large changes" (Proust et al., 2012(Proust et al., : 2136; indeed, such a shift toward ecological culture can affect the three other subsystems through various links. Moreover, while such an intervention preferably begins at an early age so that a generation will have the same or similar worldviews, it can nevertheless be prepared for all generations or for anyone who has experienced the negative impacts of climate change, mismanaged waste, the depletion of resources, corruption, violations of human rights, a lack of respect for Creation-the list goes on. ...
Article
Full-text available
Innovation has been at the center of most science policies of the ASEAN countries, driven as they are by a greater concern for the competitive advantages that can come from science and technology. Related to these policies, although often treated separately, are policies on the environment and environmental education. What is missing, however, is a more comprehensive view of how both science and environmental policies influence and are influenced by the culture and well-being of the people in a particular country. This study attempts to fill in the blanks through feedback-guided analysis, particularly by using a cultural adaptation template introduced by Newell and Proust (2017b). It studies four subsystems and seven links, and shows how ASEAN science and environment policies, cultural paradigms, the state of ecosystems, and human health and well-being affect each other directly or indirectly. The cultural adaptation template indicates the need for a systems-thinking approach in managing innovation or the implementation of policy to ensure that well-meaning initiatives may not lead to unintended consequences.
... Leverage points studies as part of climate change adaptation research are limited but exist. Leverage points were studied to inform adaptation to climate change to improve human health (Proust et al. 2012) and in relation to responses to drought (Rhoades et al. 2014). However, few studies identify leverage points to strengthen the adaptive capacity to climate change. ...
Article
Full-text available
Leverage points from systems research are increasingly important to understand how to support transformations towards sustainability, but few studies have considered leverage points in strengthening adaptive capacity to climate change. The existing literature mainly considers strengthening adaptive capacity as a steady and linear process. This article explores possibilities to fast track positive adaptive capacity trajectories of small-scale farmers in the Northern Region of Ghana. Leverage points were identified by triangulating data from semi-structured interviews with farmers (n=72), key informant interviews (n=7) and focus group discussions (FG1 n=17; FG2 n=20). The results present two ways to approach adaptation planning: 1) using four generic leverage points (gender equality, social learning, information and knowledge, and access to finance) or 2) combining the adaptive capacity and leverage point frameworks, thereby creating 15 associations. The generic points provide a set of topics as a starting point for policy and intervention planning activities, while the 15 associations support the identification of place-specific leverage points. Four benefits of using leverage points for adaptive capacity in adaptation planning were identified: guidance on where to intervene in a system, ability to deal with complex systems, inclusion of both causal and teleological decision-making, and a possibility to target deep, transformative change.
Chapter
Climate change is posing as major challenge for sustainable development. Achieving sustainable development requires action across multiple dimensions beyond climate change mitigation goals. Recognising non-climate-related benefits of climate action and purposefully considering them in the policy process can address the two issues together and simultaneously deliver climate change mitigation and sustainable development goals. This article explores the possible linkages and synergies between climate action and SDGs and how best to establish those linkages in the policy process to attain synergies by activating co-benefits. Presenting the main findings of a broader study focusing on use of ‘co-benefits approach’ by local government in Australia in their efforts to link climate action with local development policy goals it suggests measures that could assist policymakers to purposefully consider, plan, generate and activate co-benefits to link climate action with local development goals. The article concludes by discussing policy implications of the findings, the transferability of the research to settings outside Australia and possible direction for future research.
Article
Background The interdependence between human occupations, lifestyle diseases and climate change provides an opportunity to address them simultaneously. Occupational therapists’ training in lifestyle modification and knowledge about the impact of the physical environment on daily occupations puts them in a unique position to contribute to global efforts of combating climate change and lifestyle diseases through the promotion of sustainable occupations. Aim To illustrate how occupational therapists can contribute to global efforts of combating climate change and lifestyle diseases by framing climate change from a personal and public health perspective. Method In this discussion paper we argue that occupational therapists can use education and lifestyle modification to support individuals in the prevention and management of lifestyle diseases and that they can help design and advocate for environments that promote sustainable occupations. Result This discussion paper highlights the contributions that occupational therapists can make to how we understand and address climate change and lifestyle diseases. Conclusions and significance We argue that by framing the climate change discourse from a health perspective, occupational therapists can contribute to global efforts of combating climate change and lifestyle diseases by supporting individuals to engage in sustainable occupations and communities to facilitate this engagement.
Conference Paper
Studies on developing social enterprises suggest that resilience can be achieved through supportive stakeholder relationships and networks in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. This ecosystem is important for social enterprises as they are confronted with uncertain and complex conditions emerging from their pursuit of both social and commercial objectives which tend to reveal internal weaknesses and tensions. Although prior work on entrepreneurial ecosystem has made significant progress, the processes involved in interdependence need to be explored as they create and reproduce the overall ecosystem. This study attempts a shift of focus from the identification of individual components to a view which identifies entrepreneurial ecosystem as a complex and nonlinear system that changes, adapts, and evolves over time. The feedback-guided analysis using the cultural adaptation template is applied towards developing conceptual models to examine the interdependencies in the ecosystem aimed at relationships between and among cultural, environmental, political and social factors. This is done through documenting the experiences of Philippine social enterprises to understand the feedback structures that shape its entrepreneurial ecosystem. The models may serve as an assessment tool to determine management issues, its root causes and the non-obvious interactions that shape system performance over time.
Book
The now-classic Metaphors We Live By changed our understanding of metaphor and its role in language and the mind. Metaphor, the authors explain, is a fundamental mechanism of mind, one that allows us to use what we know about our physical and social experience to provide understanding of countless other subjects. Because such metaphors structure our most basic understandings of our experience, they are "metaphors we live by"--metaphors that can shape our perceptions and actions without our ever noticing them. In this updated edition of Lakoff and Johnson's influential book, the authors supply an afterword surveying how their theory of metaphor has developed within the cognitive sciences to become central to the contemporary understanding of how we think and how we express our thoughts in language.
Article
As the complexity and interconnectedness of present-day social-ecological systems become steadily more apparent, there is increasing pressure on governments, policy makers, and managers to take a systems approach to the challenges facing humanity. However, how can this be done in the face of system complexity and uncertainties? In this paper we briefly discuss practical ways that policy makers can take up the systems challenge. We focus on resilience thinking, and the use of influence diagrams, causal-loop diagrams, and system archetypes. As a case study, set in the context of the climate-energy-water nexus, we use some of these system concepts and tools to carry out an initial exploration of factors that can affect the resilience of the Australian National Electricity Market. We stress the need for the electricity sector to prepare for the impacts of global change by encouraging innovation and diversity, supporting modularity and redundancy, and embracing the need for a policy making approach that takes account of the dynamics of the wider social-ecological system. Finally, taking a longer term view, we conclude by recommending that policy makers work to reduce reliance on conventional market mechanisms, institute continuing crosssector dialogue, and promote basic education in system dynamics.